Days after India’s successful moon mission, the country is now setting its sights on the sun.
According to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Aditya-L1 spacecraft will be launched from the Sriharikota Spaceport on Sept. 2 in a bid to study the sun and its effect on space weather.
Aditya, which refers to the sun in Hindi, is to be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 of the Sun-Earth system, where the sun can be observed without any obstructions, an ISRO report stated.
Lagrange points are positions in space where gravitational forces of two large masses produce “enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion,” according to NASA. The resulting force can be used to remain in position and reduce fuel consumption — and can be likened to “parking spots” for spacecraft.
The launch will mark India’s first space-based observatory to study the sun, and would offer a “major advantage of continuously viewing the sun without any occultation or eclipses,” the ISRO report stated.
The mission would also allow for the study of solar wind, which could potentially cause disturbances on Earth, such as disrupting communications and navigation systems.
India’s government had put forth a $46 million budget for the mission back in 2019, but has not published any updates since.
On Wednesday, India became the fourth country to land on the moon, doing so with the relatively low starting budget of $75 million.
While a first attempt for India, other countries have successfully placed orbiters to study the sun. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe in 2021 which was sent to the sun’s corona to sample particles and magnetic fields, as well as the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter which was launched the year before.